The Charlotte Hornets were just 28-22 about a week ago and in 7th place in the Eastern Conference. Five straight losses later, the Hornets are 28-27 and now in 9th in the East with games against, Chicago, Memphis, Minnesota and Miami all before the All-Star break.
The Hornets’ losing streak started vs the Los Angeles Clippers where they were out-hustled by a tough Clippers team. Charlotte then lost to a surging Celtics team in Boston where LaMelo Ball had a career high 38 points, but the Hornets came up short. Charlotte fell behind against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night, but rallied back to take the lead. The refs missed a clear foul against Cleveland on Gordon Hayward then Kevin Love was fouled on the floor, but the refs said he was in the act of shooting. Love sank two free throws and the Cavs won by a point. Saturday against the top team in the East, the Miami Heat, Charlotte took a five-point lead into halftime, but were outscored 35-8 in the third quarter. Eight points in a quarter is inexplicable in today’s pace and space basketball, but it was what happened at the beginning of the fourth quarter that has social media and people buzzing…
James Bouknight checked into the game for the last 14 seconds of the third quarter. Bouknight wasn’t in the lineup to start the fourth quarter and was clearly frustrated. Coach James Borrego said something to Bouknight causing him to stand up to confront Borrego before being held back by a teammate on the bench. Bouknight was escorted to the locker room and didn’t return to the bench. Bouknight has only appeared in 24 of the Hornets’ 53 games this season. Bouknight is averaging about 5 points a game in 10 minutes of play. In the five games that Bouknight has played 20 plus minutes he’s averaged 15.8 points on 45% shooting from the floor and 46% from three. Bouknight has talent and has shown potential, so it’s no surprise why he is frustrated.
To make matters worse, in tonight’s game vs the Raptors Gordon Hayward went out with an ankle injury and the Hornets were down 49-27 in the 2nd quarter. The Hornets looked uninspired to start the game and dug themselves a large hole that they ultimately couldn’t climb out of. To their credit, Charlotte fought back to cut the lead down to three, but tired legs in the 4th quarter led to the comeback attempt falling short. Charlotte shot 9-40 from the three-point line against Toronto. With injuries, frustration setting in and teams like Toronto and Boston surging, Charlotte’s season is on the brink of an implosion. Do they have time to turn things around? Sure. But if they can’t string together some soon, what started off as a promising season could go off the rails.